PEPLUM Clichés

THE RAFT

The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault

Kirk Morris & friends escaping a sinking island on a raft in COLOSSUS & THE HEADHUNTERS

Reg Park drifting on a makeshift raft in HERCULES & CAPTIVE WOMEN

Charlton Heston and Jack Hawkins in BEN-HUR (1959)


Joseph Morgan as Ben-Hur in the 2010 TV remake

Kirk Morris and company in HERCULES, SAMSON AND ULYSSES (or as I prefer it HERCULES CHALLENGES SAMSON)



WASHING UP ON SHORE


This cliché is an easy way to start a story where our characters can start anew in a completely different setting. It's the logical follow up to the raft cliché.

 Alan Steel in HERCULES AND THE BLACK PIRATE

 The crew of the Argo from JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS

 Jacques Sernas in GODDESS OF LOVE

 Kirk Morris is rescued from the beach in CONQUEROR OF ATLANTIS

 Lex Barker is not immune to the cliche; here's ROBIN HOOD AND THE PIRATES

Cleopatra (Pascale Petit) is saved by Pompeii (Akim Tamiroff) in A QUEEN FOR CAESAR

Ombretta Colli & Steve Reeves in SON OF SPARTACUS

Mark Forest in HERCULES AGAINST THE SONS OF THE SUN

Jacques Sernas, again, in HELEN OF TROY

Brad Harris, Gloria Milland & friends in GOLIATH AND THE GIANTS




SEEING DOUBLE!


Sophia Loren plays Nisca and Cleopatra in TWO NIGHTS WITH CLEOPATRA (1954)


Laetitia Casta as Falbala in ASTERIX AND OBELIX VS CAESAR

Maria Montez plays twins in COBRA WOMAN; Tollea, left, is the good peasant and on the right, Naja, the evil Queen.


Rosanna Schiaffino plays estranged twins in THE MINOTAUR; it's a good role for her.

Gordon Scott fights with himself, in one of the best scenes in PEPLUM history, as evil Kobrak takes his shape, from GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES.

Richard Greene times two in THE BANDITS OF CORSICA. Good film.

Robert Malcolm plays a dual role in SINBAD AND THE CALIPH OF BAGHDAD

John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) has to decide which is the real Dejah Thoris (both played by Dejah Thoris) in JOHN CARTER

Geoffrey Horne plays the dual roles in LIONS OF CORSICA (1961)


"Stopping Multiple Arrows/Spears with a Piece of Wood"



Four guards are about to kill Goliath but Goliath is able to stop every arrow with that thin 
piece of wood beam. Woah, that was close. From GOLIATH AND THE VAMPIRES.



Mark Forest in HERCULES AGAINST THE MONGOLS.

That's one arrow and then two.


Publicity shot of Alan Steel from HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN. In this scene, it's spears, not arrows.

Dan Vadis stops a single large spear with a huge beam of wood in TRIUMPH OF THE TEN GLADIATORS

Mickey Hargitay blocks a bunch of arrows with a massive wooden wheel in THE LOVES OF HERCULES

Alan Steel, as Hercules, uses a fence to stop a bunch of arrows directed at him in HERCULES AGAINST ROME



THE ANNOYING SIDEKICK

A cliché that's pretty common but not omnipresent in Peplums: the annoying sidekick. You have beefy hero and he's unexpectedly friends with a dorky sidekick (excluding the Little Goliaths or young kids, of course).

Gordon Scott is pestered by Pietro de Vico in GLADIATOR OF ROME

Brad Harris and Fernando Sancho in GOLIATH AND THE GIANTS

Dan Vadis and John Simons in HERCULES THE INVINCIBLE

Roger Browne and Dante DiPaolo in MARS ~ GOD OF WAR

George Ardisson and Reg Park are kept busy by the hapless Franco Giacobini in HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD


CAST OF THOUSANDS!!

From LAND OF THE PHARAOHS. The crowd scenes were huge in this film.

Gordon Scott in GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES

From SINS OF POMPEII

Both photos above and below, from QUO VADIS(1951)

Filmed in Italy after WWII, MGM were able to get huge crowds for a cheap
price for QUO VADIS because of the poor post-war economy.


From LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (1913)

I wonder if it's a trick shot but if it's not, then wow!

The staggering crowd scenes from SCIPIO AFRICANUS

The crowd is in panic during the burning of Rome in QUO VADIS



EATING GRAPES

Mimmo Palmara & Rosalba Neri in THE 3 AVENGERS

Harry Baird is fed some bountiful grapes by Janine Hendy in THOR & THE AMAZON WOMEN

Sophia Loren & Ettore Manni in TWO NIGHTS WITH CLEOPATRA

Sophia Loren again this time with Alberto Sordi in TWO NIGHTS WITH CLEOPATRA

A scene from SIEGE OF SYRACUS

Mara Lane is about to treat Brad Harris with some grapes in 79 AD THE DESTRUCTION OF HERCULANEUM.

Gina Lollobrigida in SOLOMON & SHEBA



ROMAN LITTER

What's a Sword & Sandal film without a roman litter?

Anne-Marie Baumann in THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (1959)

Gianna Maria Canale in GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES (1961)

Carmen de Lirio in GOLIATH AGAINST THE GIANTS (1961)

Anouk Aime and Pier Angeli in SODOM & GOMORRAH (1962)

Gino Cervi in REVOLT OF THE SLAVES (1960)


"TIED TO THE MAST"

Okay, not always tied to a mast but that's the general cliché.

Ettore Manni in HERCULES AND THE CAPTIVE WOMEN

Bekim Fehmiu in ULYSSES tv mini-series

Kirk Douglas in ULYSSES

From GIANTS OF THESSALY

Richard Harrison in AVENGER OF THE SEVEN SEAS



DISPOSABLE SOLDIERS

One of the biggest clichés in PEPLUM films is the typical disposable soldiers or troops which offer almost no resistance to our heroes. If there's one cliche which I find sorta annoying, well, it's this one. The bad guys are usually so ineffective that they make our hero seem quasi weak. Remember, you're only as strong as your enemy is and if the army of the villain can be toppled by simply sneezing on it...it's not very impressive, if you know what I mean. Most of it is for fun, of course, but even more serious PEPLUM films do this. Here are a few examples:

Maciste (not Mark Forest but a stuntman) is about to clobber two mole men and a bunch more in MACISTE VS THE MOLE MEN.

Wandisa Guida is trying to convinced a bunch of soldiers to help her. Hmm...I wonder what will happen to these guys. Enter Hercules and boom!

From MY SON THE HERO (or The Titans). Probably the best or worse) example of this cliché...but this is a comedy so of course these guys are just props for funny action.


Above and below: same as MY SON THE HERO, these disposable soldiers from GOLIATH & THE SINS OF BABYLON offer almost no resistance.



Probably the most disappointing aspect of SON OF SPARTACUS (aka The Slave) was the mercenaries used by the Romans to terrorizes the land. Those guys were as strong as a wet noodle. This being a more serious PEPLUM, the realism of the ineffective mercenaries made the film appear more superficial than need be.




CROSSDRESSING

One of the oddest clichés to be found in PEPLUM films is crossdressing: men dressing as women. It's usually done for laughs but for a macho genre it's sure is popular.


Above & below: SEVEN REBEL GLADIATORS; Roger Browne is drag in the above image


From SWORD OF DAMASCUS

From MORGAN THE PIRATE: the entire Morgan crew dress up in women's clothes to entice an ship


Above & below: the Ten gladiators make for dubious women but that doesn't stop the soldiers to fancy them; from TRIUMPH OF THE TEN GLADIATORS


From THE SPARTAN GLADIATORS

From COLOSSUS OF THE ARENA; Maciste's buddy dresses up as a fetching woman

Tawny Kitaen just helped Brent Huff get in some female soldier's gear in GWENDOLINE

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LIFTING & THROWING BOULDER/ROCK/STONE


One of the most popular clichés in the PEPLUM genre is our beefy lifting something abnormally heavy no normal human can lift, like a tree, a wagon or even a person, and using it as a weapon. In this set of clichés, it's boulders or rocks or stones or something heavy made of such material, or should I say papeir mache or styrofoam made to look like such material.

Steve Reeves in HERCULES UNCHAINED

Reg Lewis in COLOSSUS OF THE STONE AGE

Kirk Morris and Richard Lloyd (aka Ilosh Khoshabe) in HERCULES, SAMSON & ULYSSES

Alan Steel in SAMSON & THE SLAVE QUEEN

Steve Reeves again in HERCULES UNCHAINED

Mark Forest in HERCULES AGAINST THE MONGOLS

Roland Carey in THE GIANTS OF THESALLY 

Ed Fury in URSUS IN THE LAND OF FIRE

Gordon Scott is about to throw a table made out of granite in GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES

Mario Novelli and Richard Lloyd (aka Ilosh Khoshabe) in THE INVINCIBLE BROTHERS MACISTE

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ST-ANDREW'S CROSS

It's pretty common to see people nailed to a cross in PEPLUM films. Most of them are directly inspired by Biblical films which of course the crucifixion being the central symbolic imagery of Christianity. But  the majority of films from the genre are not Biblical films and the use of the crucifixion goes beyond simple religious symbolism, as they're used to torture our heroes or heroines to demonstrate heroism  in the face of evil or sometimes even falling in kinky S&M category. To make matters even more convoluted there are several different types of crosses and in this example of a PEPLUM cliché I'm showing the prevalent use of the St-Andrew's cross (pictured in the last image). This is just a small sample.

COLOSSUS AND THE AMAZON QUEEN

DUEL OF THE TITANS

HERCULES THE INVINCIBLE

CONQUEROR OF CORINTH

GLADIATOR OF ROME

TRIUMPH OF THE TEN GLADIATORS

TERROR OF THE BLACK MASK

THE BARBARIAN MASTER

Dogmatix is in a precarious situation in ASTERIX & OBELIX VS CAESAR

The Martyrdom of St. Andrew painted by Bartolome Esteban Murillo


ORGIES/PAGAN FEASTS

The quintessential cliché in a PEPLUM film: orgies or pagan feasts. These scenes were big draws back in the day. They even mentioned these moments on their movie posters. I posted most of these at PEPLUM X yesterday but thought it was too good not to post it here.

A devilish looking orgy from HELEN OF TROY (1956)

A civilized feast in ALEXANDER THE GREAT

The wild feast/orgy in JULIUS CAESAR AGAINST THE PIRATES

The boring and sedated orgy in CONAN THE BARBARIAN

Gina Lollobrigida provides some excitement during a ritualistic feat in SOLOMON & SHEBA

An orgy in THE LAST ROMAN


The greatest orgy in PEPLUM history? From THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

A publicity photo for SODOM & GOMORRAH



CROSSED SPEARS

This is a small cliché but it happen quite regularly, almost always with females.


Ziva Rodann in THE GIANTS OF THESSALY

Sylva Koscina in HERCULES

Steve Reeves in HERCULES UNCHAINED

Loredana Nusciak in FALL OF ROME


BATHS / SAUNAS

A real PEPLUM genre cliché : scenes taking place in baths / saunas. They are regular in films of the genre. In fact, big important scenes often occur in such settings. This cliché differs from the equally popular 'Bathing Beauty' or 'Bathing Beefcake' which shows one person taking a bath, indoors or outdoors.

Victor Mature tends to Richard Burton's needs in the bath scene in THE ROBE


Above and below : the bath / sauna scene from TWO NIGHTS WITH CLEOPATRA starring a young Sophia Loren


The bath / sauna scene in BEN-HUR with Stephen Boyd (right)

Laurence Olivier and John Gavin in the bath / sauna scene in SPARTACUS. A big chunk of the film takes place here.

The sauna in 79 AD ThE DESTRUCTION OF HERCULANEUM

Germano Longo in SLAVE QUEEN OF BABYLON


Above and below: the sauna in UP POMPEII! Frankie Howerd is startled by a fellow sauna enthusiast




UNREQUITED LOVE

One of the biggest clichés of the PEPLUM genre is not a muscular hero throwing borders or bending metal but that of unrequited love. I'd say nearly all films of the PEPLUM genre has this cliché or some variation of it. Since the lead is most often male, the one doing the pinning is a woman. But there are many stories were the lonely Queen is being wooed by a man who wants nothing but be her husband (and ascend to power!).

Here's just a small sample of titles with this cliché.


Sinuhe (Edmund Purdom) pins for Nefer (Bella Darvi) in THE EGYPTIAN (1954). The movie's entire story is based on the unrequited love Sinuhe has for Nefer, who leads him to spiritual and financial disaster. Purdom also starred in THE PRODIGAL (1955), another story of a man abandoning everything for a woman.

Astra (Gianna Maria Canale) wants Goliath (Gordon Scott ; Maciste in original) in GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES (1961). In one of the most intense and sometimes bizarre 'love' story, the human side of the often evil Astra shines through with her adoration for Goliath.

Kirk Morris and Hélène Chanel in MACISTE IN HELL (1962). Almost all of Kirk's films has a woman pinning for him while he remains aloof and distant.

Cameron Mitchell and Franca in THE NORMANS (1962). Mitchell's character is after the Queen, who keeps her distance.

Queen Smedes (Chelo Alonso) pines for Maciste (Mark Forest) in SON OF SAMSON (1960). The Queen wants Maciste and though he briefly enjoys her company, they never live together happily ever after.

Anne Baxter and Charlton Heston in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956)

"Oh Moses, Moses!" says Nefretiri as she longs for Moses' love but he wants nothing to do with her. Classic example of this popular cliché.


more to come

1 comment:

RickBrice said...

Hola amigos,en el fotograma dela fiesta en " Alejando el Magno " la actriz no es Claire Bloom sino Danielle Darrieux. Un saludo.